The luck of this amazing woman in the right place at the right time is a wonderful story. Her lover, Alice B. Toklas is also an amazing woman. I have since ordered different books about and by these two ladies and I'm hooked. This book is one of the best so far.
Stendahl's photographic bio of Gertrude Stein includes a treasure trove of photos of Gertrude Stein and her partner Alice Toklas, as well as many of their friends and acquaintances. Most of the texts are from Gertrude Stein's writings, though there are a number from friends, enemies, and even news clippings. Stendahl has managed to merge them all into a seamless, flawless whole that functions as a biography leading us from Gertrude Stein's childhood to her death.
After finishing "Gertrude Stein: In Words and Pictures," for the first time I feel as though I actually knew her, and I'm very pleased to have made her acquaintance. She comes across as a whole human being, strengths and weaknesses together, with penetrating insight, a great sense of irony and humor, and a warmth I would have like to have known first-hand. As a bonus, I feel I now understand what she was trying to achieve with her unique and controversial writing style.
To apply my ultimate test to any book, yes, I was sorry when it ended and look forward to reading it all over again. And again.
I chose to write an essay for a class about Gertrude Stein and my professor told me not to "regurgitate" The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas so I found this book instead and while it doesn't exactly read like a regular biography, I found it an infinitely more pleasurable and informative experience. Stendhal doesn't necessarily strive to answer who Stein was or what she did as there's no definitive answer--instead she provides us with an intimidating (much like the woman herself) array of pictures, quotes, and passages from other works to allow the reader to draw their own conclusions. I'm pretty sure the pictures she included in this book you won't be able to find anywhere else; everything is included from Stein's childhood and days as a young scholar to days before her death. The fact that she includes everything in between with context and insightful commentaries to back it up was also very helpful! While it doesn't try to compete with Stein's own work, the book acts as an intriguing and often hilarious substitute to the norm presented in a one of a kind way. A must have for fans of Stein or for someone interested in how pictures and photo-biographies can tell a story!
At last this book is back in print! Using Stein's words and pictures of her, her contemporaries and the places that were the backdrops of their lives, Renate Stendhal has created one of the most vital picture-bios of Stein and her era. The introductory essays at the beginning of each chapter set the stage for what follows, giving the reader a clear chronology and context. The excerpts from Stein's works are helpful in determining which of Stein's works(many of which are still in print) you'll want to read next. Everyone who was anyone in their crowd is here. A great gift for anyone interested in the literary/artistic period between WWI and WWII.
This is such an awesome book. Has so many cool photos of Gertie and Alice and you really get a sense of what their world was like. I think that if Gertrude was alive today, she probably would have been a reality show star. She definitely enjoyed the spotlight.